Congressional Budget Resolutions: Reporting Deadline in the Senate

Order Code RS20541 Updated April 23, 2008 Congressional Budget Resolutions: Reporting Deadline in the Senate Robert Keith Specialist in American National Government Government and Finance Division Summary The House and Senate are required under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to complete action each year on a budget resolution before spending, revenue, and debtlimit legislation can be considered. In order to facilitate timeliness in the congressional budget process, Section 300 of the 1974 act establishes a timetable that requires the Senate Budget Committee to report a budget resolution by April 1 and the House and Senate to reach final agreement on a budget resolution by April 15. (Prior to FY1987, the deadline for reporting the budget resolution was April 15 and the deadline for its final adoption was May 15.) During the 34 years that the congressional budget process has been in effect, the Senate Budget Committee has reported 32 budget resolutions subject to the April deadline. (The budget resolutions for FY1991 and FY2002 were discharged from the committee.) On average, the 32 budget resolutions were reported about on the applicable deadline (e.g., within a fraction of a day late). Twenty of the 32 budget resolutions were reported in a timely manner, about 12.6 days before the deadline, on average. The remaining 12 budget resolutions were reported after the deadline, by about 21.3 days, on average. This report will be updated as developments warrant. Under the congressional budget process established by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-344, as amended), the House and Senate are required to adopt a budget resolution each year before spending, revenue, and debt-limit legislation can be considered, unless a waiver or exception applies. The budget resolution serves as a framework that constrains action on subsequent budgetary legislation.1 The congressional budget process has been in effect for 34 years, covering FY1976-FY2009. 1 The congressional budget process is discussed in more detail in CRS Report 98-721, Introduction to the Federal Budget Process, by Robert Keith. See also CRS Report RL30297, Congressional Budget Resolutions: Selected Statistics and Information Guide, by Bill Heniff Jr. and Justin Murray. CRS-2 The 1974 Congressional Budget Act originally required the House and Senate to adopt two budget resolutions each year, a “first” budget resolution in the spring and a “second” one in the fall, just before the beginning of the fiscal year. The first budget resolution set advisory targets that guided action on budgetary measures while the second budget resolution set binding limits. Congress abandoned the practice of adopting a second budget resolution after the FY1982 budget cycle and formally repealed the requirement as part of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Title II of P.L. 99-177, as amended). In order to promote timely action in the congressional budget process, the 1974 Congressional Budget Act set forth a timetable in Section 300. Under the original timetable, the House and Senate were required to reach final agreement on the budget resolution by May 15. In furtherance of this objective, the House and Senate Budget Committees were required to report the first budget resolution by April 15 each year. The congressional budget process timetable was revised by the 1985 Balanced Budget Act. In an effort to spur more timely action, the deadline for adoption of the budget resolution was advanced from May 15 to April 15. Further, the Senate Budget Committee was required to report the budget resolution by April 1. (The reporting deadline for the House Budget Committee was eliminated instead of being revised.)2 These changes first took effect in 1986 for the FY1987 budget cycle. Table 1 indicates, for each fiscal year from FY1976-FY2009, the number of the first budget resolution reported in the Senate, the Senate report number, and the date the budget resolution was reported. Thirty-two budget resolutions were reported during the 34-year period. In two instances (FY1991 and FY2002), the Senate Budget Committee was discharged from the further consideration of the budget resolution. The FY1991 budget resolution, S.Con.Res. 110, was discharged on Monday, April 2, 1990, and subsequently considered by the Senate. The committee reported another budget resolution, S.Con.Res. 129, the following month, but it was not considered and is not counted for purposes of Table 1. For FY2002, the Senate Budget Committee did not mark up or report a budget resolution. Instead, the House-passed budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 83), which had been referred to the Senate Budget Committee on March 28, 2001, was discharged on Monday, April 2 and later considered by the Senate. In nine instances (FY1988, FY1993, FY1998, and FY2004-FY2009), the Senate Budget Committee did not submit a written report to accompany the budget resolution. For FY2004-FY2009, the Senate Budget Committee issued a committee print in lieu of a written report. 2 The change was made in Section 201(b) of the 1985 act; see 99 Stat. 1040. CRS-3 Table 1. First Budget Resolutions Reported by the Senate Budget Committee: FY1976-FY2009 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution (S.Con.Res.) Senate Report Number Date Reported Comment April 15 Reporting Deadline 1976 32 94-77 04-15-75 — 1977 109 94-731 04-01-76 — 1978 19 95-90 04-12-77 — 1979 80 95-739 04-14-78 — 1980 22 96-68 04-12-79 — 1981 86 96-654 04-09-80 — 1982 19 97-49 05-01-81 — 1983 92 97-385 05-10-82 — 1984 27 98-63 04-24-83 — 1985 106 98-399 04-18-84 — 1986 32 99-15 03-20-85 — April 1 Reporting Deadline 1987 120 99-264 03-24-86 — 1988 49 — 04-15-87 No written report. 1989 113 100-311 03-31-88 — 1990 30 101-20 04-27-89 — 1991 110 — — S.Con.Res. 110 was discharged from the committee on 04-02-90 and placed on the calendar. Another budget resolution, S.Con.Res. 129, was reported on 05-10-90 but not considered. 1992 29 102-40 04-18-91 — 1993 106 — 04-03-92 No written report. 1994 18 103-19 03-12-93 — 1995 63 103-238 03-18-94 — 1996 13 104-82 05-15-95 — 1997 57 104-271 05-13-96 — CRS-4 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution (S.Con.Res.) Senate Report Number Date Reported 1998 27 — 05-19-97 No written report. 1999 86 105-170 03-20-98 — 2000 20 106-27 03-19-99 — 2001 101 106-251 03-31-00 — 2002 — — — Committee did not mark up or report a budget resolution. Instead, the Housepassed budget resolution, H.Con.Res. 83, was discharged from the Senate Budget Committee on 04-02-01 and placed on the calendar. 2003 100 107-141 04-11-02 — 2004 23 — 03-14-03 No written report. Committee issued a committee print, S.Prt. 108-19, in lieu of a written report. 2005 95 — 03-05-04 No written report. Committee issued a committee print, S.Prt. 108-365, in lieu of a written report. 2006 18 — 03-11-05 No written report. Committee issued a committee print, S.Prt. 109-18, in lieu of a written report. 2007 83 — 03-10-06 No written report. Committee issued a committee print, S.Prt. 109-057, in lieu of a written report. 2008 21 — 03-16-07 No written report. Committee issued a committee print, S.Prt. 110-019, in lieu of a written report. 2009 70 — 03-07-08 No written report. Committee issued a committee print, S.Prt. 110-039, in lieu of a written report. Comment Source: Prepared by the Congressional Research Service. Figure 1 provides information on the reporting of the budget resolutions relative to the deadline. The 32 budget resolutions were reported, on average, about on the deadline (e.g., within a fraction of a day late). Twenty of the budget resolutions were reported in a timely manner. The reporting date for these budget resolutions ranged from zero to 27 days before the deadline and averaged 12.6 days before the deadline. The remaining 12 budget resolutions were reported from two to 48 days after the deadline, averaging 21.3 days after the deadline. CRS-5 Compliance with the original deadline of April 15 (in effect through FY1986) was about the same as compliance with the revised deadline of April 1 (in effect beginning with FY1987). Under both deadlines, the budget resolution was reported, on average, about on the deadline (e.g., within a fraction of a day late). The minor difference between the two averages obscures the significantly tardy reporting of the budget resolutions for FY1996-FY1998, which were reported between 42 days and 48 days after the deadline. Following these three years of tardy reporting of the budget resolution, the measure has been reported on time in nine of 10 years. CRS-6 Figure 1. Number of Days Budget Resolutions Were Reported by the Senate Budget Committee Before or After the Reporting Deadline: FY1976-FY2009 Number of Days Before (-) or After (+) Deadline -40 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 -30 -20 -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 0 -14 -3 -1 -3 -6 16 25 9 3 -26 -8 14 -1 26 17 2 -20 -14 44 42 48 -12 -13 -1 10 -18 -27 -21 -22 -16 -25 Source: Prepared by the Congressional Research Service. Note: The reporting deadline was April 15 for FY1976-FY1986 and April 1 for FY1987 and thereafter. The Senate Budget Committee did not report a budget resolution for FY1991 or FY2002. For FY1991, the Senate Budget Committee was discharged from the further consideration of the budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 110), which was placed on the calendar on Monday, April 2, 1990, and considered by the Senate. (The committee reported another budget resolution, S.Con.Res. 129, the following month, but it was not considered and is not counted for purposes of Figure 1.) For FY2002, the Senate Budget Committee did not mark up a budget resolution. Instead, the House-passed budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 83), which had been referred to the Senate Budget Committee on March 28, 2001, was discharged on Monday April 2 and later considered by the Senate.